Sleeping Bear Dunes | Susan J. Demas
On a Michigan campaign stop in March, President Donald Trump promised he wouldn’t slash funding for the Great Lakes after all, after proposing to do so in his budget request.
That came after his initial 90-percent cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was widely criticized by a bipartisan collection of Great Lakes-area officials.
This week, Trump sent a notice to Congress that he had added the $270 million back for the initiative. He’s also proposed the cuts in previous budgets, which Congress has ignored.
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) told the Advance during Trump’s visit that he U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) all talked to Trump about the need for the Great Lakes money.
“Look, we made the case [to Trump],” Huizenga said. “Bergman, Moolenaar, myself, in a concentrated time [we were] able to make the pitch. I was thrilled he [Trump] responded the way he did.”
This week, Huizenga thanked Trump on Twitter for “fulfilling your promise to prioritize the protection of the Great Lakes,” adding that the program “helps both the economy & the ecology.”
Thank you President Trump for fulfilling your promise to prioritize the protection of the Great Lakes by fully funding the #GLRI in your updated budget. This bipartisan program is something I have fought for because it helps both the economy & the ecology of the #GreatLakes! https://t.co/AMwx3YZrLR
— Rep. Bill Huizenga (@RepHuizenga) May 13, 2019
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer led a group of five Great Lakes governors who wrote a letter to the president advocating for the funding. The other governors were Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and J.B Pritzker of Illinois. The letter said Trump’s GLRI cuts would “cost our states thousands of good-paying jobs, hurt our tourism and recreation industries, and jeopardize public health.”
On Wednesday, Whitmer cheered Trump’s decision but said it “shouldn’t have taken this long” for such an important priority.
“This announcement is good news for our economy, our families, and the future of our Great Lakes, but it shouldn’t have taken this long to secure funding for the world’s largest body of fresh water,” she said in a statement. “I was glad to be joined by a bipartisan group of governors in our joint letter calling for President Trump to restore this funding because protecting the Great Lakes is a bipartisan issue. If we’re going to continue to call our state ‘Pure Michigan,’ we must ensure that this funding continues in the future, and I’m willing to work with anyone who wants to get it done.”
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